In order to get its zero-emission cars into the hands of more drivers worldwide, Tesla is launching its new affordably-priced Model 3. The $35,000 4-door sedan will roll out of a Fremont, California plant later this month, putting it into contention with the $37,500 Chevrolet Bolt for most affordable electric vehicle.
The new vehicle launch comes at a time when Tesla has struggled to sell their cars nationally. The Model 3 is less than half the price of Tesla’s existing Model S and Model X vehicles. This release could break the carmaker into the mass market, possibly giving Tesla the ability to sell hundreds of thousands of electric cars.
Over a year ago, Tesla put the Model 3 up for presale. Within days of the announcement, 300,000 customers put down their fully refundable $1,000 deposits to reserve the new car.
On July 28, the first 30 customers will receive their Model 3 units at a “handover party,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. After that, 100 Model 3 vehicles will be produced in August, followed by 1,500 in September and another 20,000 by December, according to a Tesla video statement.
The Model 3 should qualify for the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit, but isn’t yet featured on the Department of Energy’s qualifying vehicles list. The credit applies to drivers who buy a hybrid or fully-electric vehicle, including Tesla’s three existing models.
This latest model can travel 215 miles on a single charge, and can accelerate from 0-60 MPH in under 6 seconds. This is a more limited range than Chevy Bolt, which can go 238 miles on a charge, but is also faster—the Bolt’s burst from 0-60 MPH clocks in at about 6.5 seconds.
But with the added speed comes questions about the vehicle’s safety—often a crucial factor for mass-market purchasers. In a video release for Model 3’s unveiling, however, Tesla CEO Elon Musk assured viewers the car was designed to achieve a 5-star safety ranking.
“You will not be able to buy a better car for $35,000, or even close…” said Musk as he revealed the new Model 3.